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A PREVIEW OF THE NFLPA NEWS CONFERENCE: STRIFE AND ALL
Published January 26, 1995
"This is the state of the Players Association on the eve of the union's showcase event: discord and distrust," according to William Rhoden in this morning's N.Y. TIMES in previewing NFLPA Exec Dir Gene Upshaw's Super Bowl news conference today. More than one player "expressed anger yesterday over Upshaw's leadership, from the collective bargaining agreement that granted free agency but included a salary cap to Upshaw's own salary of $900,000." 49er Player Rep Toi Cook defends Upshaw's salary: "He needs to get what other people are getting. The other people are getting a million dollars." But Cowboy Michael Irvin said: "Not only did he let me down as a football player, he let me down as a black man, making that poor business decision. People will look at this and say, 'That's why you can't put a black man as head of anything.'" If shows of unity and minimum player salaries are any measure, the NFLPA is the "weakest of all" team sports players' associations, according to Rhoden. He notes the start of the NFLPA licensing corporation, which NFL Properties countered by offering to sign players to contracts. "Instead of signing with their own licensing entity, certain key players signed with NFL Properties." As for the report that former NFLPA staffer John Walker misappropriated union funds and stole checks that were payments from agents for union certification, some players are upset with the union's handling of the situation. 49er WR Ed McCaffrey: "Something like this -- misappropriation of funds, regardless of how much it is -- I think it's a pretty significant blow to the relationship between players and the union" (N.Y. TIMES, 1/26).